Advice for Parents
Are you concerned your child has an eating disorder?
Here are our tips for dealing with this worrying situation:
Firstly, in order to determine whether your son or daughter’s eating habits give cause for concern, it is important to focus on their mindset and behaviour, rather than their body shape. Please bear in mind that there are plenty of naturally very slender children who do not have an eating disorder. Equally, bulimics in particular, tend to be a normal weight, or even slightly overweight.
Here at Winning Minds we do not believe in using BMI charts, weighing or measuring. We simply look at mindset and behaviour.
The classic signs to look out for are:
- Making excuses not to eat e.g. “I had a big lunch”,
- wearing baggy clothes,
- becoming excessively withdrawn, moody and anti-social,
- feeling constantly cold,
- hiding food,
- constant criticism of the body
- dramatic weight loss for the time period. The important thing is not your child’s weight now, but the weight they began at and how rapidly they have lost weight.
- Exercise compulsion – For example, running up and down the stairs continuously.
- Having a bath or going to the bathroom immediately after eating,
- constant flu or sold-like symptoms – running nose, sore throat etc,
- grazing on the knuckles,
- swollen glands,
- mood swings, depressive episodes,
- negative body image
- Remember that with bulimia, you may not see a change in weight – Some bulimics lose a lot of weight, others do not.
- Binge-eating is often done in secret. Note any secretive behaviour and hiding of food/wrappers you might discover,
- Eating in response to emotions such as loneliness, distress or boredom,
- Rapid weight gain
For any eating disorder, it is a coping mechanism for feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem, guilt or a sense of losing control. Try to think of other things which might be happening in your child’s life which might have triggered disordered eating. For example – Bullying, moving to a new area, break-up of a family or even simply puberty.
- It is important not to blame yourself. Recognise that your behaviour might have contributed to the ED, e.g. constantly criticizing your own body and/or dieting. However, we are all human and you have tried to be the best parent you can – Working yourself up into a state will not help anyone, particularly not your child when he or she realizes that they need help.
- Do not put pressure on your child to communicate or force feed them – As difficult as it may be, try to stand back from the situation and give your child some space, letting them come to you in their own time.
If you come to the conclusion that your child does have an eating disorder, it is important to educate yourself about the mindset of someone with an ED. There is no point in trying to reason with them – EDs are not logical. You cannot force them to admit to having an ED and in attempting to do so will probably worsen the problem. It is important to understand that EDs are not really about food, and they are everything to do with the mind. Try to empathize with your child’s mindset and understand what they are going through before tackling the issue and encouraging communication.
You might find our CD Understanding Eating Disorders is useful for educating yourself about ED’s.
This is a 1.5 hour recording of an interview between Mark and Natasha in which they outline what Eating Disorders really are, the common sources for them, why traditional modern medicine approaches won’t work and how and why Neural Recoding does work.
This CD is ideal for ED sufferers who are frustrated by the current medical approach and can’t see a way out; for parents whose children have ED’s to give them an understanding of what their child is going through; for ex-sufferers who have beaten the behaviour, but who still have extreme anxiety around food.
For further information, call 0800 083 0143